Archive for Tuesday, July 3, 2001

Friends in a Tonganoxie moment

July 3, 2001

When children are young, if they're lucky, they'll develop close "storybook" friendships.

I consider myself fortunate.

Susie Englert and I met when we were toddlers. I am told that I, the sibling of older rough-and-tumble twin brothers, immediately took the upper hand with my newfound friend and knocked her down.

Because our parents were friends, Susie and I spent a lot of time together. I remember being at her house, about eight miles northeast of Tonganoxie, baking miniature cakes in Susie's toy electric oven, and going out in the field behind her house and watching mud dobber wasps roll balls of dirt.

When Susie turned school age, the family moved to Tonganoxie so she and her brother, Johnny, could attend "town school." The family bought what is the present home of Jack Wolfe on Main Street. From the basement to the attic, Susie and I explored it all. We baked our first cookies in the kitchen of that house, sewed our first doll clothes upstairs, turned the attic into a sort of a home-away-from-home, and slept "outside" in the summertime on the screened-in porch.

It was in the sideyard of that house that Susie took the upper hand and taught me how to ride a bicycle.

"Just ride on down the sidewalk I'll hold onto you," she said. But surely her fingers were crossed, because as soon as we started moving, she let go and I kept on riding.

Susie's family left Tonganoxie when she was 10. She wound up in California, where she lives today.

A month ago, Susie called to say that she and her youngest son, David, and her mother, Dorothy, would be coming to visit. We hadn't seen each other since her last trip to Kansas 10 years ago. We hadn't talked or written in four years. But friends have a way of connecting, no matter how much time has passed.

When Susie learned that Fred Scheller and I had married, she recalled that Fred's mother, Edna Scheller, had babysat her and her brother before they moved to town. Needless to say, my husband, along with his personalized tour through the area, was a big hit.

While here, Susie wanted to stop at The Mirror office not to see where I work, but to see Terylan a friend since kindergarten.

Each year in grade school, Terylan and I were in the same class. We spent childhood days together, making peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches to take on picnics, sharing favorite books, cooking everything we could think of in my mother's kitchen, giggling at her father's jokes. During my 19 years in central Kansas, Terylan and I kept in touch. When I moved back to Tonganoxie four years ago, we picked up where we had left off. On the wall beside my office desk is a picture of 14-year-old Terylan and me, standing in front of city hall, batons in hand as we lined up with the high school band for a parade. Knowing last week that Susie would be visiting, Terylan brought a picture from her 1962 birthday party one that shows the three of us amid a group of smiling faces.

We decided it was time for an updated photograph and as my husband snapped the picture, our smiles were genuine for true friends no matter how near, no matter how far, are always that.

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